Rooting Woodies in Autumn

Sunday, September 23, 2012
Questions about Hormex A good crop of questions came across my desk, giving me the opportunity to delve into several different species and how to clone them. 1. Red apple ground cover You asked about rooting red apple ground cover and there are 2 Hormex products that will work well for your project. You can roll callused cuttings into Hormex #3 or dip them in Hormex Liquid Concentrate, which can also be used to water the cuttings in the rooting bed. Red Apple is an ice plant, Aptenia cordifolia, that is native to South Africa and so excellent for at least 10 of the Sunset Climate Zones. Healthy ice plants root readily in early spring and are not too difficult to root at other times. A sharp knife is preferred for taking the cuttings to avoid damage to these succulent plants. Take 4 inch stem cuttings and set them aside in a dry, warm place until the end gets callused, usually about 3 days. This step is important for the initiation of roots and without it, the cuttings will often rot. Add sand to a good potting mix (1:1) or use a soil mix made for cacti and succulents and fill small pots or a flat. Water the pots of mix once and take the leaves off of the lower half of the stems. Roll the cuttings in Hormex #3 or dip them in undiluted Hormex Liquid Concentrate for one minute and stick them in the pots or flats. A warm dry room with indirect sunlight works best for rooting red apple ground cover. Water just enough to keep the soil damp, never wet. If you use Hormex Liquid, mix it 2 t/gal of water during rooting. Tug gently on the cuttings in about a month; if they resist, they’re rooting. Wait to pot up or plant out until the cuttings have more than an inch of healthy roots. 2. Star magnolia You asked about cloning green stems of star magnolia and the distinction between green and brown stems is important in choosing which Hormex product(s) to use. You can roll the cuttings in Hormex #3 or soak them for 5 minutes in undiluted Hormex Liquid Concentrate. You can also use HLC mixed 2 t/gal of water while the cuttings are rooting and should, particularly if the stems are actually green, that is, new growth. Star magnolia, or Magnolia stellata, is a beautiful small flowering tree. Its cuttings require a rich yet well-drained rooting media such as you can make by combining quality potting mix with equal parts perlite and coarse sand. Be sure to wet the perlite first to hold down the dust and then mix the ingredients very well. This mix should feel gritty to your touch when it is right. Star mags do not transplant well, so it is suggested that you use a quart sized or even a gallon sized pot to root them. Leave an inch of headroom above the soil and below the rim of the pot so the cuttings won’t be disturbed when you water them. Fill the pots and water them once before you stick the cuttings. At this time of year and frankly, because pure green cuttings of woody plants are much harder to clone, you will also want to strip some bark before sticking. Here’s what to do: take 6 inch tip cuttings, longer if you are not using a single blade knife and thus will have to recut before sticking. Make a single cut on a slight diagonal and strip the leaves off the lower half of the cutting. Now use your knife to scrape off just the outside of the bark on the bottom inch of the cutting. Roll the cutting in Hormex #3 or soak them for 5 minutes in undiluted Hormex Liquid Concentrate and then slip the lower 3 inches into the rooting mix. Put the pots outdoors in a low light protected location, water weekly, and mist or drape with removable plastic to keep the humidity levels up and leaf loss down while rooting. Cool weather is fine, freezing weather is not, so prepare the outside area accordingly. These are not plants to root indoors unless you have a well lit, cool basement! After a month, tug gently on the cuttings; if they resist, they are rooting, but will not be ready to plant in the garden for several months. Next week: answers about rooting carnivorous plants!
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